Saturday, May 5, 2012

To Outline or Not To Outline, What A Question


By Bonnie Harris

I never outline. I hate it. My husband would tell me to not use the word never because it rarely is accurate. Well, I can honestly say, I NEVER outline. Even in school, when an outline was required for a project, I would finish the assignment first, and then write the outline. I haven’t figured out if that’s because I never really understood how to create one or I didn’t know what I wanted to do or the real reason I never outlined.
Many workshops I’ve attended have talked about two kinds of writers, discovery writers and outliners. I most definitely would be a discovery person. There is a certain thrill to sitting down to a blank screen and letting the story flow, having only a general idea of what I think might happen. For the most part, I know how I want to start and where I am going to end, but the middle . . . who knows. That’s where to fun is, in my opinion.
In one of my novels, I had a character literally (well, literally as in the story literally) walk into a scene. My heart pounded, I sat up straight, and cocked my head as I asked, “Now who are you? And what role do you play in this story?” It was so much fun to see this character develop and weave through different scenes and I get chills even thinking about it. :)
Part of me thinks that outliners look down on discovery writers. That most likely is my own assumption, and assumptions always get me in trouble, but for a long time, that’s how I’ve felt. All those outline, Hero’s Journey, Snowflake method type blogs or workshops I’ve sat through, I’ve listened only half-heartedly because after all, I know my style and it’s not outlining. I will NEVER use an outline.
Well, . . . *clears throat* . . . here’s where I watch the pigs fly across the room or eat my shoe or whatever other cliche you’d like to insert. Since I’ve become a mom, I have found my time somewhat preoccupied and my writing time, shall we say . . . limited. I know, crazy, right? Who would have ever thought. (Those of you who smiled at me when I was talking about how I’d still have time, feel free to say, “I told you so.”) 
I am beginning to see how an outline might actually be beneficial. It will help me use my time more wisely so when I do end up with a block amount of time to write, I’m not staring at the computer screen, watching the time tick by, and freaking out that I won’t be able to get my fabulous idea on the page before it leaves because I might not remember it later.   With an outline, I have the fabulous idea already mapped out and can refer back to it whenever I need to. I’m hoping lightning doesn’t strike. :) That’s not to say that I am jumping right in on the outlining bandwagon, but I am very eagerly going through all my notes, trying to find the outlining method that will work best for me.
I have an idea of what I’m going to try to use, but I’d love to hear what your favorite methods are. I will share what I know (and what I research) of those methods in future blog posts. Then if you are a discovery writer who might want to venture over to the world of outlining, you’ll have some different ways to choose from.
In the meantime, Happy Writing!

1 comment:

  1. Great post Bonnie. I, for one, have always been AMAZED at how much you DO get accomplished by way of writing--baby and all.

    As one who has never outlined much before, I'm also looking at it as a way to get me through my writing slump.

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